Final showdown - Jamaica's Mullings, Canada's Rose seek Contender crown
Jamaica's Sakima Mullings will try to create history tonight at The Mico University College, when he and Phil Rose from Canada, go head to head for the right to be called the Wray and Nephew Junior Middleweight Contender champion 2017. If Mullings wins, he will be a Contender champion for the second time, having won in the welterweight division in 2014, against Tsetsi Davis. That year, Davis retired in round seven, after six bruising rounds of boxing.
The action starts at 8:30 p.m., with two amateur bouts, and this will be followed at 9:30 by a super-middleweight bout between former middleweight Contender champion Kemahl Russell and Nigel Edwards for Trinidad and Tobago over eight rounds. The main attraction, which will be over 10 rounds, will then follow.
Everything is in place for a thrilling end to a season that started on April 5, with Mullings defeating Canada's Winston Matthews over five rounds in the preliminaries.
There has been excitement and controversy over these past several weeks, and at the end, the two boxers seeded at No. 1 by their respective countries have ended up contending for the title. Mullings had three thrilling fights on his way to the finals.
After defeating Matthews, he went on to beat another Canadian, Larone Whyte, and then Jamaican Tsetsi Davis. The Davis fight was full of excitement, and using his boxing skills, Mullings was able to stay ahead of his opponent to the end and earn the right to be in tonight's final.
He is supremely confident that he will be the winner, and his mission, he says, is to "bring back the Contender title to Jamaica". Last year, it was won by American Demarcus 'Chop Chop' Corley.
Mullings, who has a 21-3 record, has definitely been one of the best fighters in the competition, and his mixture of skill and punching power took him to the final. The major question mark that he has going into the fight tonight is his stamina. He showed vulnerability in this area in his fight against Davis, which was over seven rounds, but he was confident yesterday that this would not be a problem.
"I have put in the work and I am ready," he said.
Rose, who has Jamaican family ties, has a 10-4-1 record. He has been a very popular competitor, and showed improvement everytime he entered the ring. His mission, he said at the beginning, was to "finish at the top of the competition" and he is very close to saying "mission accomplished". He declared himself to be "ready to go" yesterday and that he will be taking the fight one round and at time, and was confident that if everything goes according to plan, he will be the 2017 Contender champion.
CLOSE ENCOUNTER EXPECTED
It should be a close, hard-fought encounter, and the general feeling yesterday was that the fight could go either way. The winner will take home the title and $2 million, the runner-up gets $500,000; third place, $250,000; and fourth place, $200,000. Since there will be no box-off for third and fourth, third place will go to the boxer who lost in the semi-finals to the champion.
In the undercard, Russell, 10-1, will face a determined challenge from an opponent who is a natural light-heavyweight. Edwards enters the fight with a 9-1-1 record, and his last fight was for the FECARBOX light-heavyweight title fight in January this year. He lost then by technical knockout to Sheldon Lawrence. Russell also lost for the first time in March 2017, to world-rated Sergiv Derevyanchenko, so both men are looking for victory tonight, to get themselves back on a winning path.
Russell has promised to give his fans an exciting performance, but it appears that he will have to work hard for victory, as Edwards was confident yesterday that he would be the winner tonight.
In addition to boxing there will be a variety show, and the promoters have promised, "It will be a night to remember."